Thursday, February 27, 2014

Touch the Wall

You know how when you try to stand on one leg, if you just put one finger on the wall, you can stabilize yourself?

That's how the outside rein connection is supposed to work. The horse needs the outside rein to balance herself, but that means it has to be steady, like a wall, without being forceful. Walls shouldn't push back most of hte time. And the rider touches the wall, too. Outside rein contact is for both of you. You don't want to reach a finger to the wall and have the wall punch either of you in the face.

This is the wisdom I got from D today. She's helping me a lot by harping on my position but she also comes up with some really good theory.

Lex was positively explosive this afternoon. She cantered around and around on the lunge line before I could get her to trot, and then when D carried the mounting block to the middle of the ring, Lex FREAKED. OUT. She'd gallop away from it over and over again and wrenched my back pretty well at one point. So while I kept her moving and tried to get her to focus on me instead of the mounting block -- which see has seen ten million times before -- Denise scattered all kinds of jump blocks and poles all around the ring and then told me to get on. Lovely, heh.

I mean, I don't blame Lex. It was 15 degrees in the indoor, which is too cold to ride, I think. I couldn't feel my fingers or my toes, and I was wearing two pairs of gloves, heavy wool socks, and my Ice Riders. Lex hadn't been turned out because the winds were 25mph and it was icy and the barn owner made the safe call, which I appreciate. And because I was freezing, I wasn't at my most relaxed.

I miss Florida so much.

Anyway, this lesson was really great because it gave me a chance to ride Lex at her silliest with someone on the ground to remind me to keep her softly forward in front of the leg. When Lex got sucked up behind the leg, I felt like she was gonna explode, so I'd put my leg on her and ask her to step out and she'd relax. We worked a little bit on lateral work today, but it was hard because I just didn't have a lot of Lex's attention.

In spite of the challenges today, we did have some very nice trot work, and our canter work was much better than last week. We started to the right and then went across the diagonal to do a simple change to the left. She got the left lead on the first go-round, and while she's still much speedier to the left, it didn't feel as hell bent for leather as last time. Yay, Lexi!

So all in all, I was happy with how it went, even if my brain was frozen. I need to try to get on some horses who are further along than she is so I can work on some things, but that can wait until it's a bit warmer. D loves Lex and thinks we go together well, which is really good to hear.

Random question: Do any of you feel like all the winter clothes get in the way of your riding? I swear I feel different than I do when it's just breeches, boots, and a polo shirt. I'm not trying to make any excuses for anything, I just feel weird in the saddle and I think that's why.

Anyway, next time I ride, I'm going to be thinking about the wall. We touched it today, from time to time, so we're getting there.
Tracy took this!


  1. It's a tough balance between layering to keep warm and feeling like an immobile marshmallow in the tack. I'm sorry Ohio weather isn't treating us well this year... I SWEAR it's not usually this bad!!

  2. Yes, winter clothes absolutely get in the way, but so does frostbite. Trade offs. ;-)

    As for the lesson, it sounds brilliant. It is SO FREAKING HARD to remember to put leg on and ride forward when they feel explosive, but it's really the only way. Glad you are progressing.

  3. Lesson sounds great, I too am always getting yelled at the keep the outside rein "wall" up, I have my rein tension completely backwards and need to reconfigure my brain.
    Winter is nasty, hope warmer weather arrives soon!